Poetry contest

Buttonwood Tree looking for poetry contest entries

MIDDLETOWN — The Buttonwood Tree is accepting submissions for a poetry contest, “Set Your Conscious Free,” in honor of Susan Allison, the venue’s founder; and Barbara Payne, mother of the current Portland winner.

Allison was born in Derby and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, according to a press release.

She considered poetry and wanderlust to be the two main constants in her life, according to the press release. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in African Studies in 1985. After traveling and raising a family, she opened an old and rare bookstore, Ibis Books & Gallery, in the North End of Middletown in 1989.

In 1991 it was converted into The Buttonwood Tree, an arts and cultural performance space that continues to be a hub of artistic and cultural activity, the venue said.

Payne’s son, Portland Poet Laureate Naji Chester Payne, inspired and co-sponsored this contest. His mother was raised in foster care and endured many challenges throughout her life, the statement said.

Barbara had lived in Chatham Court flats since its inception 34 years ago, and was well known in the community as the ‘mother’ of the neighborhood and was ‘highly valued’ by the Portland Housing Authority. She has served on the Housing Authority Committee, Community Action and Parks and Recreation.

The Payne Chester Community Center is named after her and her late husband. Naji Payne said he was inspired by the poetry of Amanda Gordon and hopes people who have never written poetry before will be encouraged to express themselves through poetry as he has.

The winner will receive $100. Second place prize is $50 and third place prize is $25, plus honorable mentions.

Submissions are open until June 30. One poem will be accepted per person, there is no fee to submit and the contest is open to ages 16 and up.

For more information, visit buttonwood.org/poetry-contest.